School: Abingdon School
International rowing record: 2016 World Rowing Junior Championships, M2- 10th
Year started rowing: 2012
How have you coped this year?
It has been difficult to remain motivated at times, training at home indoors for long periods. The main thing that has helped me to keep training well has been staying as connected as possible to teammates, while really focusing on short term goals in my training and progress.
Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?
To be honest, at times I think we struggled to keep up a strong sense of team and connection between the athletes, especially immediately after Trial VIIIs and during the start of the most recent lockdown. However, in the past few months we took big strides to bring the team together through training together over Zoom, holding more virtual events together as a team, and dividing the team into smaller training groups to try and establish a more regular training routine. I personally found these things to make a huge difference to my enjoyment and quality of training.
Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?
Having rowed in the Northeastern United States during my undergraduate studies, where the lake we row on would freeze over for about three months every winter, I felt physically pretty well prepared for the additional land training. What I found more difficult was training at home, rather than in a gym with teammates, both in terms of the isolation but also the environment – doing a hard workout in a narrow corridor or outside in the cold seems a lot less exciting than in a wellequipped gym.
What was your lockdown training set up?
I am lucky to live with some other rowers and we decided fairly on that we needed an outdoor tent in the garden, under which we keep two rowing machines. We also have some weights outdoors too. When it got cold in January and February we brought the ergs indoors although we only have a narrow corridor which can get quite sweaty. I have struggled with back injuries over the past few years, so I have also been doing a lot of cycling, both indoors on the trainer and out on the road when the weather allows. Going out cycling with teammates has definitely been some of the most enjoyable sessions, especially during lockdown.
How do you cope with race day nerves?
I do not really think there is any way to get rid of nerves, and I think it’s a good sign to be nervous for a race as it shows you care and are motivated. I think it is important to channel the nerves into thoughts about how you want to execute the race, rather than imagining scenarios where things go wrong.
The biggest challenge?
For me I have had to deal with some injuries this year, both while training at home and out on the water. It is really frustrating not to be able to complete the same training as everyone else because of an injury. However, I have tried to turn these around to motivate myself to make the most of every session knowing how frustrating it is not to be able to train as you wish.
The toughest session?
Definitely the 5k ergo test. You can really get completely everything out of yourself if you pace it right, but there is also always the chance that you go out too hard and find yourself asking your body for more and not having anything left to give. Physically and mentally, this is the most challenging session.
The best day, so far?
I have to say the first day of the campaign, out on the water in September. I missed my last year of racing as an undergraduate and felt like I had unfinished business with rowing, so to be back out on the water again after six months of training by myself felt like life was somewhat back to normality and I was part of a team again.
Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?
It was definitely a nervous moment waiting for the list of people who would be able to train but once I knew I would be training my thoughts went straight to how I can make the most of the next month on the water to give myself the best chance of crossing the line first on Easter Sunday.
Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?
Definitely, and obviously we would prefer to train as a full team, but we also understand the decision to limit the number of athletes training at a time when everybody is still stuck at home.
How did it feel getting back on the water?
It was definitely exciting, but we also know that we have a limited amount of time, so we were definitely all focused from the first stroke on making the most of every session.
Why do you want to beat Cambridge?
I just want to win. I don’t really think too much about my opposition regardless of who I’m racing. My motivation comes from my own desire to achieve my goals rather than beating someone else.